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Baltimore’s Annual MLK Parade Will Step Off Ahead Of National Holiday

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MLK Parade
Christie Ileto 370 x 278 Christie Ileto
Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)— It’s a day marked by music, dancing and crowds of people to honor the life of one man: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Christie Ileto has the details on this year’s festivities.

The streets will once again come alive to honor the man who lost his own life fighting for a dream.

“The parade is to remind us Dr. King’s message of equality,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

This year’s theme: “Honor the legacy, celebrate the dream.”

Mayor Rawlings-Blake and other city leaders say this year there’s also a new date.

“We certainly wouldn’t want people to make a choice between honoring Rev. Dr. King and the president,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Event organizers moved the parade to Saturday this year because it would have fallen on the same day as the presidential inauguration.

But one thing will be the same: marching bands, step teams and community groups will fill the parade route.

Organizers expect festivities to draw thousands of people to the streets of downtown Baltimore.

“Much of the nation’s history, including civil rights history, is rooted right here in Baltimore,” said Alvin Gillard, Office of Civil Rights.

The parade steps off at Eutaw and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and heads south ending at Baltimore Street.

There’s also a new face in the parade. This year’s grand marshal is Baltimore native and former Harlem Globetrotter, Charles “Choo” Smith.

“It’s really about two things, and that’s love and service. We have to love each other, and that’s what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted,” Smith said.

Rawlings-Blake says Smith is an example of someone who has achieved their dreams and will remind people of their own.

Monday will mark the 27th year there has been a federal holiday to honor the late civil rights leader.

Gov. Martin O’ Malley started this tradition 13 years ago when he was the mayor of Baltimore.

The parade is this Saturday and kicks off at noon.

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